September 7, 2021
Since June, nearly 1 in 3 Americans have been impacted by a weather disaster, according to data compiled and published by the Washington Post earlier this month. As this newsletter goes to press, colleagues from Louisiana to the northeast are still dealing with the effects of Hurricane Ida. In many communities, especially those in the South, COVID-19 cases in children are surging at hospitals are at capacity. Many ID doctors—and our colleagues– are struggling with exhaustion and burnout. The Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society is here to support you in these unbelievably challenging times. If you have a need that you think the Society could help meet, please feel free to reach out to me directly so that we can brainstorm.
In April, PIDS released a statement endorsing the universal removal of the term “red man syndrome,” a term previously used to describe the syndrome of histamine release caused by rapid infusion of vancomycin and replacing it with “vancomycin flushing syndrome.” This statement was envisioned and drafted by PIDS Board member Matthew “Boots” Kronman and his colleagues at the University of Washington/Seattle Children’s Hospital and Oregon Health and Sciences University. Subsequently, other societies, including IDSA, also advocated for elimination of the offensive term but proposed different terms for replacement. Over the last several months, PIDS, IDSA, HIVMA, SHEA and SIDP have collaborated on a joint statement, which you can read here (insert link). With strong input from our pharmacy colleagues, we have concluded that the preferred terminology should be “vancomycin infusion reaction, “a term that emphasizes pathophysiology over visual appearance of the skin. As Boots has eloquently pointed out, there are likely several correct replacement terms but there is clearly one wrong term and our priority should be expunging that term.
Now the hard work begins to change terminology in electronic health records, textbooks, online resources, and our own personal lexicons. I encourage each of you to share this statement with the hospitals and universities where you work. Share it with your colleagues. Please review the lectures you give to medical students and residents about antibiotics. The first report calling for replacement of the offensive term was published in Lancet in 1990. Thirty years is too long to wait to do the right thing.